An Environmental Plea to Dentists Everywhere

I visit my dentist several times a year, and each time, some member of his staff insists that I leave with a plastic bag which contains a plastic toothbrush in its plastic packaging, along with a plastic container of floss and a toothpaste sample. They simply will not take no for an answer.

Here’s the thing. I use a Sonicare toothbrush, and my dentist knows this, so I have no need for these toothbrushes. And I now have enough toothpaste samples in my linen closet to last the rest of my natural life. Okay, yeah, the floss I can use. But the rest? A heaping helping of plastic that the planet could do without.

I try to mitigate this. Recently my husband and I donated a gigantic pile of toothbrushes to a shelter, and will also probably do the same thing with 90 percent of the toothpaste samples eventually. But the product manufacturers could just as easily do this themselves and produce the same amount of good will.

Given the number of dentists in the world who give out samples, I have no doubt that somewhere, floating in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, is an island of dental samples the size of the state of Vermont. And it’s all so unnecessary! Seriously, I’ve lost sleep over this. So here’s my plea to dentists everywhere:

  • Don’t have your hygienists force samples upon your patients that they don’t want or need.

  • If you insist on giving out said samples, do so in a paper bag, at the very least.

  • Even better: have your samples on display in the waiting room, and urge your patients to help themselves to what they need.

  • Prevail upon your dental product manufacturers to reduce their plastic packaging.

Please spread the word about this. It’s not a difficult change to make, but it would make such a difference.

Dental samples

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Saving Money by Using Libraries? Why Is That a Controversy?

In this age of social media, things seem to get all out of proportion a lot more quickly than in days of yore. Personally, when I saw this image floating around in cyberspace, I was charmed. What a lovely way to remind people how valuable their libraries are!

Library Savings

But according to this article, that’s when it all went pear-shaped. Some people got upset that all that money that’s saved by using a library is money that isn’t going into an author’s pocket.

I hate to tell you this, but authors only make a very small cut from book sales. As an author myself, I know it’s mostly pennies on the dollar. Unless you’re a best selling author, you shouldn’t quit your day job. (And in most countries, you still get those pennies if the book is purchased by a library, for what it’s worth.)

Granted, more people read that same book, but it’s a heck of a lot more profitable for us than if someone buys the book and then sells it used on Amazon—thus depriving us of a potential buyer, and causing us not to see any of the money at all.

That, and I really don’t want people to clutter their house up with books they’re only going to read once. Hug a tree and free yourself from chaos. Use your library!

My book is currently in 6 libraries that I know of. That makes me so proud. I’d love it if you’d ask your library to get a copy, too! I want my book to be read. That was the whole point of writing it. I’d much rather have someone read it by borrowing it from a library than if they never see it at all due to lack of funds.

Most of us can’t afford to buy every book we read. That’s the whole point of libraries. Share information. Share knowledge. Encourage reading. I am totally down with that.

So keep saving money. Keep visiting your library!

Little Free Gardens!

Recently I started a Little Free Library, and it’s been so popular that I can barely keep up with it. I’ve also blogged about Chat Benches, which is another community-building idea whose time definitely has come. From here, a friend told me about another fantastic idea: Little Free Gardens.

According to the website, “The goal of the Little Free Garden project is to foster communities committed to growing, sharing and cultivating food in small gardens, placed in residential or public spaces.”

What a brilliant concept. And it’s simple, really. 1) Build a box, perhaps 4 feet by 2 feet and 12 inches deep. 2) Plant vegetables or fruit therein. 3) Place it in your front yard or in an approved public space, so that the produce can be shared by anyone who wants or needs it.

Not only are you helping to feed others, but you are educating them about the value of fresh, high quality, local food, and encouraging gardening. It’s also a great way to meet your neighbors and build community connections.

What’s not to love about this idea? If you don’t have the time or space to plant a little free garden, please consider hopping over to their website and supporting this organization in its good works.

clases_doctoradoe

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Another Scammer Messed With

If you recall my post Messing with a Scammer, you’ll know that I take great delight in acting stupid and gullible in order to waste the time of a con artist. I look at it as a civic duty. The more time they spend with me, the less time they’ll spend bilking little old ladies out of their life savings.

It seems I’m not alone in this pastime, because a loved one of mine recently shared this exchange that he had with your basic scumbag. He was doing an honest day’s work when his phone beeped, and he came across a text from a coworker. But red flags went up because the text was coming from a strange number, and his language and syntax seemed a little off. I’m sure it wasn’t hard for the scammer to find out that they were coworkers on line, and then search for his phone number. Then they were off to the races, as the saying goes.

Scam1

Knowing his coworker would never make such a request, he decided to play along.

Scam2

Yeah, right. Like that’s gonna happen, buddy. So now he started acting like he wasn’t very clever about these complicated tech thingies.

Scam3

Scam4

Ooh, the genious scammer sent a photo! Just trying to be helpful. Which made my friend look on line for some photos of his own to send back.

Scam5

Now the scammer is convinced he is dealing with a fool. But he’s the fool. He sent his e-mail. Wanna mess with him too? Please, please do! Sign him up for as much spam e-mail as you can possibly think of.

Scam6.jpg

Scam7

Hee hee.

Scam8

Now Mr. Scammer starts getting testy.

Scam9

Scam10

I’d include more screen shots, but it’s just another 50 or so idiot-related images that my friend sent to tie up scammer’s phone. But hey, if the phone number or the e-mail are still active, I strongly encourage you to mess with this dimwit. It’s a dirty job, but in the end, it’s quite satisfying, and a lot more fun than waiting for karma to bite him in the butt.

______________________________________________

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Turning Guns into Gardening Tools

I just heard a delightful audio postcard on my local NPR station, KUOW. It was about a wonderful summer program that’s happening in Burien, Washington, a town near me. Part of this program includes a blacksmithing project that’s turning guns into gardening tools. One of the kids involved, a 16 year old boy, said, “Everything that is negative can be switched to positive.”

I like that. A lot. Especially in light of this country’s 250th mass shooting this year.

While Googling for more information, I came across this fascinating program called RAWtools. They, too, make gardening tools. You can even donate a gun to them. Or you can buy a garden spade, among other items. They also do nonviolence training and neighborhood development. Biased as I am, I have to say they have a great blog, too. I strongly encourage you to make a donation to this amazing organization.

Those Christians who insist that all of us should have a right to own semi-automatic weapons seem to conveniently overlook this passage: “And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” Isaiah 2:4

Just sayin’.

Swords-into-plowshares

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Political Architecture vs. the Architects of Politics

It was an interesting weekend. First, I watched The Post, a movie directed by Steven Spielberg, starring Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks. It’s about the Washington Post’s release of the Pentagon Papers, which proved that several presidential administrations had lied to the American people about the Vietnam war. It was also about the risk that our country’s first female newspaper publisher took to get that information out there, and how it sparked a landmark lawsuit that reinforced freedom of the press. I highly recommend this movie. It’s kind of a precursor to All the President’s Men.

But to say it reinforced my bitterness toward this nation’s politically corrupt shenanigans is putting it mildly. Politicians suck, man. No question about that in my mind. We need some serious political reform in this country. But the rich people will never let us have it.

So there I am, in that mindset, when we decided to take a road trip down to Olympia, the state capitol of Washington.

For starters, let’s get something straight for all the readers from other countries, and for all the readers living on the east coast. Washington is a state. Really, it is. It’s not the same as Washington DC. They’re two distinct places, about 2,700 miles apart. I know. Hard to believe. But there you have it.

Okay, so now that you’re in the right place, let’s get back to the capitol, Olympia. I’d never been there before. It’s a pretty little town, right on the southern tip of Puget Sound. It’s definitely worth a visit, if only to take a tour of the legislative building on the state capitol campus, which we did.

It looks like your typical capitol building. Classical style. Pillars. A dome, rising up 287 feet. Carved sandstone. Granite. Marble. Masonry. Ornately painted plaster. A big fountain out front. Bronze statues. Lots and lots of flags and official seals.

It took 500 master craftsmen 5 years to build it, and it was finished in 1928. It’s overflowing with Tiffany lighting, and one chandelier weighs 5 tons and has 200 lightbulbs.

There’s an ornate reception room on the third floor, where they have the Governor’s Inaugural Ball, which the public can attend, if you can afford the price of the ticket and the formal wear you’d be expected to sport. In essence, publicly, democratically open. If you have the money.

It was really interesting to see the Senate and House chambers as well. They were not in session at the time, but you got a strong sense of the seriousness of the place. The mahogany and walnut desks alone must be worth a fortune.

That’s the thing about political architecture. It’s designed to inspire awe. It made me want to speak in a whisper. I felt funny walking amongst all that marble in my tourist wear. It’s truly a gorgeous building. I’m glad I went.

But I also struggled, because the ostentatiousness of the place really annoyed me when this state has such a homeless problem. And The Post was still fresh in my mind, with all its political corruption.

We’d like to think that We, the People are who these people are serving, but really? Why the need for so much flashiness? Does that much pomp fit our circumstance?

There is political architecture, which is usually stunning, and there are the architects of our politics, and they can be quite ugly. That juxtaposition of this beautiful building housing what can be, at its worst, a pit of vipers, makes it possible to feel pride and disgust at the same time. And that’s a confusing combination.

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Steps in the Right Direction

I saw an interesting bit of performance art the other day on the Seattle waterfront. Four people, dressed in black, wearing the masks that Anonymous has made famous, were all silently holding screens that had streaming videos on them. Upon closer inspection, those videos were of slaughterhouses, and they made me squirm.

Members of the group Anonymous for the Voiceless were working the crowd, handing out cards with more information about animal cruelty. I left there feeling horrible that I had just had fish for dinner. I hate animal cruelty. I really do. But am I a vegan? No, I am not.

However, I am proud of the fact that I eat about one tenth the amount of meat that I ate when I was growing up. I do love my veggies, and there are just so many delicious meatless options out there nowadays that meat is not nearly as necessary as it used to seem to me.

I went home and tried watching some of the videos that they mentioned in their literature. Some were too disturbing for me to sit through. Others were a bit too radical for me to take seriously, like the one that said that the domestication of animals was tantamount to slavery. (That one made me look at my rescue dog and ask him if he was happy. He gave me a big old sloppy kiss and went back to chewing his butt.)

Here’s the thing (and yes, there’s always a thing): I agree with most of what these people were trying to say. I just take exception to the way they were saying it.

Implying that anything but perfect behavior is utter failure is nothing but emotional abuse. Because none of us are perfect. None of us.

I may not subscribe to your religion, but that does not mean I’m going to hell. I may not eat what you want me to, but that doesn’t make me incurably evil. Life is not black and white. It’s shades of grey.

I do believe it’s important that we know where our food comes from, and the environmental impact its production causes. I do believe that there are a lot of moral incentives to going vegan.

I just think making me walk away feeling like sh** about myself is not the best way to convert me to your cause. We should all be praised for the positive efforts we make in any and all walks of life. Steps in the right direction are just that: steps in the right direction.

Maybe stop focusing on the ultimate destination and appreciate the well-considered journey. Baby steps are important. Not everyone is going to reach your finish line, but all efforts theretoward are praise-worthy.

anonymous

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